President Rodrigo Duterte may have chosen to put aside the arbitral tribunal award that invalidated China’s massive claims in the South China Sea, but the world’s naval powers are doing their part to enforce it, Supreme Court acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said Monday.
“There is clearly enforcement of a core part of the Award by the world’s naval powers, even if there is inexplicable reluctance on the part of the Duterte administration to enforce the Award,” he said at a forum held in Manila as the July 12, 2016, landmark ruling marks its second anniversary on Thursday.
The navies of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada, India and Japan are sailing, and have been sailing, in the high seas and exclusive economic zones of the South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation, Carpio said.
The air forces of the US, UK, Australia and Japan are flying, and have been flying, over the high seas and EEZs of the disputed waterway to assert freedom of overflight.
“These naval and air operations enforce the part of the Award affirming the existence of high seas and EEZs in the South China Sea,” he said.
The acting chief justice said the naval powers were doing the “heavy lifting” to enforce the award despite no support from the Philippines, the biggest beneficiary from the Award.
Carpio was part of the legal team that secured the favorable ruling of the UN-backed arbitral court in The Hague that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim.
The current government has decided to put aside the ruling as it pursued warmer relations with China in favor of loans and investments.
Carpio said it was now the civic duty of every Filipino to assert its rights in the West Philippine Sea in order to preserve the Award so the next administration could enforce it.
“It is now our duty to inform the Filipino people why the Award is immensely beneficial to our national interest, and why every Filipino has a civic duty to preserve and protect the Award so that the next Administration can enforce the Award,” he said. /cbb